Category: Christmas (Page 3 of 3)

Fourth Candle – LOVE

Each Tuesday in this space I am posting the coming Sunday’s Advent liturgy we’ll be using here at GCR.

Today we light the fourth candle of Advent, the candle that represents love.
This candle is purple, to remind us of the royalty of our coming King; it symbolizes the eternal power and authority of Jesus. But this week of Advent is about love.
The eternal love of our heavenly Father who sent his Son to restore us and all of creation.
The sacrificial love of Christ Jesus who left his home in glory to save us from our sins.
And the selfless love we share with one another as a result of the redeeming work of Christ.

John 3:16-17


Don’t Skip the Family Line

In reading the birth stories of Jesus during this Advent season, it’s important to not skip over the genealogies. I know your eyes glaze over at all the names in Matthew 1 and Luke 3; we tend to skip those lists of fathers and sons, who begat whom, and so on. These passages don’t make the program at the kids’ Christmas pageant.

But we need to pay attention to the names. We need to read the names out loud and consider the relatives of our Lord. We should reflect on their meaning for us as children of God and followers of the Christ.

Tamar and Judah, father and daughter-in-law; yuk. Rahab – you know her better by her last name: “The Harlot.” Ruth the Moabitess; in other words, the pagan, idol-worshiping Canaanite. David, Solomon, and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. Manasseh – the Bible says he did more evil than all the bad kings before him combined. This list is full of lying and murder, adultery and idol-worship. One of the lists traces Jesus’ line all the way back to Adam, the OG of all sinners! This is not a fitting genealogy for the Holy Son of God.

Actually, for the Holy Son of God, this is the perfect back story. For the promised Savior of the World, this is the perfect list of relatives. Almighty God sees this mess and he decides he’s going to join it. He’s going to become a part of it. Joseph and Mary fit right into this. Their situation was so awkward and messy, remember? Joseph was trying to figure out how to divorce Mary even as they were on their way to Bethlehem.

God through Christ sees this whole mess and he decides to belong to it. God does not distance from the messes in our lives. He does not withdraw from the mess in your life. He willingly steps into it. He joins us, he becomes us. He jumps right into the middle of the sin and pain and grief in order to redeem it.

That’s the really good news of great joy. No one is so lost and so broken. You are not so far gone or so messed up that you’re somehow beyond God’s reach. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gone or how far away you are, how dark it might be or how bad it’s gotten. Our God specializes in the mess. I don’t care how messy your mess is, it doesn’t even phase our Lord Jesus! He’s in! He’s in with you. And for you.

Don’t skip over the genealogies. Those are real names of real people with really messy stories. You’re in there, too. And so is our Lord Jesus.



Third Candle – JOY

This is the liturgy we’ll be using at GCR this Sunday:

Today we light the third candle of Advent, the candle that symbolizes joy.
This candle is pink in color, which represents joy and marks a shift during the Advent season from an attitude of repentance to one of rejoicing and celebration.
The joy of the Lord builds within us as the coming of the Savior draws near.
We rejoice together in the gift of salvation through the birth of Jesus Christ.
And we joyfully praise God for the coming fulfillment of his promises.

Luke 2:7-14


Second Candle – PEACE

We are observing Advent together here at GCR as a tangible way to participate in the Gospel story, as an active way to “remember.” Each Tuesday I’ll be posting here the liturgy we’re using the coming Sunday.

Today we light the second candle of Advent, the candle that represents peace.
This candle is also purple, which stands for our spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ.
Today we remember that Christ Jesus is the only source of true peace.
We resolve to make peace in our families and in this community of faith.
We pray for the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts and in this world.
And we prepare to welcome God’s peace on earth and into our lives.

Isaiah 9:6-7



First Candle – HOPE

This coming Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent season for followers of Christ.  The word “advent” is from a Latin word that means “coming.” This is the time when Christians look forward to the coming of Christ. We anticipate his arrival. We prepare for the fulfillment of the promise of our God to send a Savior to rescue us from our sins and restore us into a righteous relationship with him and with one another.

We’ll be celebrating Advent here at GCR with a simple liturgy at the beginning of our Sunday assemblies. Each Tuesday, I’ll post the liturgy for the coming Sunday in this space. Please read this liturgy more than a couple of times. Read it out loud. Meditate on it. Read the passage of Scripture. Out loud. Let these words soak into your soul as we prepare our hearts and our minds together for this most beautiful of seasons.

Today we light the first candle of Advent, the candle that reminds us of our hope.
We remember Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s promised Messiah.
We remember our hope for the promised second coming of Jesus.
We remember our need for a Savior to save us from our sins.
And we prepare to welcome Christ Jesus into the world and into our hearts.

Jeremiah 33:14-16



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